Hearing and Knowing: Theological Reflections on Christianity in Africa is written by Mercy Oduyoye, arguably Africa’s foremost female theologian. A Ghanian, her perspective is shaped by a different context from the one we find ourselves in. Nevertheless, she brings some strikingly relevant questions, in particular, what does Christianity offer to the African that traditional religions (or Islam for that matter) do not? Unfortunately, the answer to that question was yet to be plumbed in African theology at the time of writing (nearly 30 years ago) for reasons that quickly become apparent. Read more
Posts tagged ‘theology’
Orobator’s Jesuit background means that Mariology features in his Theology brewed in an African pot. It’s a fascinating chapter which he ends with a prayer to Mary using some African proverbs about mothers.
I loved how he’s taken the experience of women and used this as a prayer for Africa. If it makes you uncomfortable that it’s a prayer to Mary, you could think about how to pray it to God who is at times described in maternal imagery in the Bible. Read more
The basis for one of Orobator’s prayers in Theology brewed in an African pot is some African proverbs the celebrate the joy and dignity of motherhood. I share the proverbs here. I wonder which ones resonate with you and which ones you find more foreign? Read more
Many of Orobator’s categories are recognisably and classically Christian. In his treatment of the Trinity, he suggests that the issue for the African is how the One God (a familiar concept in traditional African religion) can in fact be three. He suggests that explanations of ‘three persons’ have drawn too heavily on the Neo-Platonic thought of the discussions of the fourth century. Incomprehensible to the average person, they revert to seeing God as ‘mystery’, emphasising God’s other-ness and distance.
Orobator offers a more everyday image as a way of speaking about the Trinity. He draws on a concept from the Yoruba people in Nigeria: the Obirin meta. This refers to a woman who ‘combines the strength, character, personality and beauty of three women.’ Read more
Nigerian Agbonkhianmeghe E Orobator‘s Theology Brewed in an African Pot is aimed at ‘non-professional Christians’ in Africa as well as those from outside the continent who are interested in learning how theology is done in Africa. There are many things that Christians of different backgrounds can agree on as central to theology but there are also things that Orobator believes the African can and ought to be able to perceive and express through the prism of his African religious and cultural heritage.
Orobator believe theology can not be separated from the affections and so he prefers to add ‘love and hope’ to Anselm’s definition of theology as ‘faith seeking understanding’. Additionally, he can not conceive of theology happening outside the community of praying, worshiping and praising believers. Thus his definition of theology is ‘faith seeking understanding, love, hope, prayer, praise and worship.’
Each chapter contains a prayer and I share here the words at the end of the first chapter which seemed to me an excellent preparation for any theological endeavour: Read more
We’ve been talking about two global tensions, language and resources. Now, let’s look at one of Jim Harries’ case studies of how Western money and Western language conspire to prevent African realities from being addressed.
Western Kenyan people are renowned for their love for funerals and their fear of the sick and dying. Sick people can be almost deserted and abandoned as a result of this fear. Once the sick have died then friends and relatives crowd along to the funeral. Why is this? A Kenyan church leader was asked this question in my presence in 2009. ‘Because people fear being haunted,’ he explained. ‘If someone is very sick and suffering and perhaps at risk of dying, they may well be harboring bitterness or anger. The most likely people to become the targets of such feelings are not those who stay away, whom the sick person may not recall to memory at all. Rather, the most likely targets of such feelings are those who are nearby, yet fail to fully satisfy the wishes of the sick. It is therefore easy to reason pragmatically speaking that it is better to stay away from the seriously sick than to try and help them and then to be haunted.’ (page 86-87)